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BUSTED: UHP seizes 130 pounds of meth in 2 stops near Cedar City

meth bust graphic - uhp photos.PNG
In just two traffic stops, Utah Highway Patrol troopers seized nearly 130 pounds of methamphetamine this week, according to an agency tweet. (Photos courtesy Utah Highway Patrol)

In just two traffic stops, Utah Highway Patrol troopers seized nearly 130 pounds of methamphetamine this week, according to an agency tweet.

Two drivers were stopped on Interstate 15 near Cedar City for speeding and following too close, the tweet states. The meth seized may have been bound for distribution in Utah.

Eighty-six of the 130 pounds of meth were seized on Monday, after a trooper stopped a vehicle with a Pennsylvania license plate for following too close to a semi hauling a trailer, according to court documents.

The trooper who stopped the vehicle reported smelling marijuana when they made contact with the driver, 35-year-old Channing Allen. The trooper searched the vehicle, and stated they located marijuana, drug paraphernalia, cocaine, and a gun. Through the course of the search, the trooper stated they located a "manufactured compartment" behind the rear passenger seat.

The compartment was opened back at UHP's section 11 office, and troopers located 47 packages of methamphetamine, according to court documents. The packages weighed 86 pounds combined.

Allen told UHP troopers he was paid $5,000 to transport the narcotics, court documents state. He was booked into the Iron County Jail and faces seven charges, including one felony drug charge and three misdemeanor drug charges, as well as charges for the firearm troopers located, the altered vehicle compartment, and the traffic infraction for which he was stopped on I-15.

The next day, another UHP trooper stopped 53-year-old Jacqueline Vargas, of Salt Lake City, for speeding while traveling northbound on I-15 near Cedar City. The trooper states Vargas was traveling 84 miles per hour in an 80-mile-per-hour zone. Vargas was traveling with four children, who she claimed were her grandkids.

After checking Vargas's criminal history, the trooper discovered Vargas had a history of smuggling drugs, according to a probable cause statement.

A UHP K9 sniffed out narcotics in the vehicle, so troopers searched it. Inside the truck's spare tire, troopers found 21 packages of crystal meth, and four packages of heroin — 43 pounds and 4.5 pounds, respectively.

The Division of Child and Family Services was called to take the four children, and Vargas was booked into jail. She was indicted on two counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, four counts of child endangerment, as well as one count each of possessing drug paraphernalia and speeding.